Cabarrus

Local quotes tell the story of 2011

Last week, it was the year in review. This week, it's the year in quotes.

Local leaders and newsmakers paint a good picture of what's happening throughout Cabarrus County. Refresh yourself with some of the stories that are changing the face of the county.

January

"We think in the near future, the state's going to require what we're doing. We're the only ones doing it now. There are a couple in Charlotte that are dumping it on the ground and going through it, but this is totally different. It's going to be a big thing."

~ Larry Griffin Sr., who opened Greenway Recycling on his 180-acre landfill near Harrisburg. The $3.5 million addition, with 18,000 square feet, is the area's first single-stream recycler of construction waste.

"It has a very unique sound, something between a train horn and a foghorn. People will recognize it when they hear it. The city council has authorized us to turn this building into a fire museum eventually, so when we found that old horn and knew it was part of the station's history and traditions, we thought, 'Why not put it back in service?' "

~ Chief Randy Holloway, Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety. The department restored its 1935 Gamewell diaphone alarm horn and re-established the tradition of sounding it daily at noon and during holidays and special events. The diaphone rests on a pole near the historic Station No. 1 on Church Street.

"Location, location, location."

~ Ray Hathcock, 75, a member volunteer for the hot dog ministry at McGill Baptist Church, on what Forest Hill United Methodist, which surpassed the quarter-million mark at its weekly hot dog sale, raising more than $270,000, has that McGill Baptist doesn't. McGill members began their own hot dog ministry after some advice from Forest Hill members.

February

"Some of these schools are rather old, and I think all students in Cabarrus County deserve to be in schools and facilities that are conducive to learning."

~ Barry Shepherd, superintendent of Cabarrus County Schools, as school board members toured more than half a dozen area schools to determine priorities in the system's five-year construction plan. Some schools are 40 to 70 years old or older.

"We actually saw the buildings first-hand, and some of the things that you see on paper cannot begin to describe what is really going on in certain facilities."

~ Holly Blackwelder, school board member since 2004, on the facilities tour.

"When I started as a volunteer, I enjoyed the camaraderie, the traditions, the values and just the excitement of going on calls. For me, it was pretty neat when I came through the academy in Charlotte and my dad pinned my badge on me. That was a pretty special memory in itself, because not everybody gets that."

~ Ken Bradey, a second-generation firefighter and Harrisburg's newest deputy fire chief, on his history as a firefighter. Bradey began his new role after more than three decades with Charlotte Fire Department's Engine 64. The 17-year Harrisburg resident is second in charge of about 60 staff and volunteer firefighters who answer more than 1,000 calls per year. Bradey's father, Roy, was a firefighter for 34 years.

"A flag distills all kinds of things into an easily digestible symbol or image, and they're just beautiful."

~ James Summers, curator of the Concord Museum, on Confederate battle flags hand-sewn by Concord women in the 1800s that went into storage after the museum's Civil War exhibit ended in May. Restoration efforts for at least one of the flags were estimated to cost about $25,000.

March

"I don't know if I've ever done anything in my professional life that people have appreciated so much. The consumers, the restaurants, and to hear people talking about my products is just heartwarming."

~ Kate Brun, owner of Lucky Leaf Gardens, which expanded in 2011 to offer 40 types of organic microgreens.

"What we've realized is we need a stronger connection between farmer, processor and buyer. We're bringing everybody together in the supply chain. All the big players in North Carolina that are interested in producing, processing and marketing local meat are coming together to better understand each other and to enhance the overall industry."

~ Jennifer Curtis, director of N.C. Choices, after the Carolina Meat Conference, a first of its kind in the nation.

"We meet, or are better than, any standards currently in place with water quality and conservation efforts. We perform better than the state requires us to."

~ Christie Putnam, water resources director for Concord's Water and Stormwater Services department.

April

"If we increase it, we can try to bring back some potential retail developers who might have otherwise passed on Harrisburg. Ultimately, it's up to the town council ... but the current cap shuts the door on retail development."

~ Josh Watkins, Harrisburg planning director, on the town's long-debated issue of how large retail buildings are allowed to be built. The planning board voted to increase the allowed size from 80,000 square feet to 135,000 square feet.

May

"The renovation has allowed us to redefine the use of many of the spaces in the library. As a result, patrons will experience a much-improved library that will better meet their needs."

~ Dana Eure, director of the Cabarrus County Public Library, on the $800,000 in renovations to the Concord main library that were completed in June.

"It's cool to be in Concord, and even though people may not be tuned into what we're doing, we're putting these machines all over the country, and people are paying attention."

~ Clark Whittington, a Central Cabarrus High School graduate who installed one of his Art-o-Mats at the Cabarrus Arts Council Galleries. The converted cigarette machines vend original artwork for $5 per piece and have become permanent installation pieces at some of the nation's top museums, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

"I have more customers come here from Charlotte to buy beer and listen to the music, and some have said they didn't even know downtown Concord existed."

~ Robert Burrage, 39, owner of Lil Robert's Place on Union Street, which sells craft beer by the bottle and on draft.

June

"We are a group that buys from local farms, but unlike others, we have no membership fees, no minimum order, and people don't have to commit to buy from us on a regular basis."

~ Carolyn Davis, who provides locally grown meats, eggs, vegetables and more through GO Local NC Farms. She added more stops throughout Cabarrus last year.

"Not only are we trying to support farming as a profession, as an economic contributor, but ... the more opportunities there are to find locally grown food, the more we'll all start eating it and, hopefully, getting healthier in the process."

~ David Kataja, chairman of the Cabarrus County Food Policy Council's outreach marketing education and economic development committee. Council members fine-tuned guidelines for groups that could use the recently developed "Locally Grown" logo.

"This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I had placed as a personal goal grew into an amazing experience. Not only did we experience classic Disney service, we were also treated to insights and experiences from the company's creative backbone."

~ Concord's Adam Newton, part of a four-person N.C. State University team that placed second in Walt Disney Imagineering's 20th annual ImagiNations Design Competition.

July

"The benefits will be safety, more space for the controllers, and it will enhance security for the facility."

~ Concord Regional Airport Aviation Director Richard Lewis, on building a 120-foot-tall, $3 million air traffic control tower. It will replace a 36-foot tower.

"The town has not asked us or considered us in any aspect of this. Personnel may be a closed-casket issue, but we close the casket, too. It would have been nice to get a heads-up, at least, instead of being blindsided by this issue."

~ Fire Advisory Board Chairman Robin Torrence, on Harrisburg budget cuts that led to the loss of five part-time firefighters and the fire marshal. Residents protested, and the Town Council eventually reversed its decision.

August

"We can be a big kid just like they can. They'll remember that." after a dance at Logan community celebration.

~ Concord Police Sgt. Edie Moss, who got in on an impromptu dance with members of the Multicultural Student Union during the city of Concord's 10th annual National Night Out event.

"We deserve this. We started running out of room in 2004, and we've worked really hard to make it work since then."

~ Linda Grist, director of the Cabarrus County Board of Elections, who helped open its new office at 369 Church St. N. in Concord.

"We slept in a flooded hotel, but the smell from the mold was worse than the wet floor. Then a severe thunderstorm popped up and a tornado touched down three miles south of where we were working. When we went back out to work, it was in ankle-deep water."

~ Larry Barbee, a Concord electric supervisor for 15 years. He and his crew replaced poles, power lines and transformers and hooked up houses to electric services in Eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Irene.

October

"They wouldn't have come here if we didn't have a vibrant downtown. That's one of the things that made it attractive to Carolina Courts representatives. This is a game-changer for downtown."

~ Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, on Carolina Courts' plans to build a $3.9 million multipurpose sports complex near Memorial Garden downtown.

"He knows the city, and he knows this department. He's worked here his entire law enforcement career. The officers here know how he does business. They know what he expects, and it's just simpler.... And with him being a lifelong citizen, they know he's got this extra level of accountability."

~ Police Major Allen Overcash on Concord native Guy Smith's promotion to chief of the Concord Police Department.

November

"You come in thinking, 'I don't know what's going to happen, but it exceeded our expectations."

~ Chris Chilelli, Cabarrus County Schools' science curriculum specialist since 2005 and a former educational designer at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on his hopes that a NASA-inspired challenge, in which students must build a glider using a shoebox, will become a part of the curriculum countywide.

December

"When we started the process of finding a new venue, we did not plan to find something so quickly. It is amazing what is in your backyard."

~ Andrew Butcher, district director of the N.C. Gold Wing Road Riders Association, which signed a contract to host its annual convention at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center in Cabarrus.

"They are looking at some financial transactions. I'd like to let it play out and see what the investigation yields before commenting. Just stay tuned."

~ Rich Koch, Harrisburg's town attorney, after the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office opened an investigation of former Harrisburg town administrator Michele Reapsmith.

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